Friday, April 8, 2016

One Jewish Family's DNA Ethnicity Results

I have previously written about AncestryDNA's ethnicity results for my husband here. Since then, I have transferred his DNA to FamilyTreeDNA which is how I connected with a fourth cousin (which I wrote about here.)

FamilyTreeDNA also offers ethnicity results. These come from doing an autosomal DNA test (as opposed to a Y-DNA test or a mitochondrial DNA test). An autosomal DNA test can help a genealogist find cousins, like the fourth cousin mentioned above. I'm not going to get into all the details of DNA testing, but if you're interested, you can read a blog post I wrote at my other blog, Autosomal DNA Testing with FamilyTreeDNA, and you can explore the FTDNA Learning Center.

I thought I'd share one example of why it's interesting and helpful to have both parents tested. (It's also interesting to have all siblings tested, which I have done in my family and you can see those results at From Maine to Kentucky.)

The following colorful images are from FamilyTreeDNA's MyOrigins feature, which shows estimates of an individual's ethnicity going back hundreds, if not thousands, of years. The key word here is estimate - this is really just a fun way to see where your distant ancestors came from.

Before my father-in-law died, I was able to get him to donate his DNA for the genealogical cause. This was interesting because he is about as Ashkenazi Jewish as you can get, at 99%:

Father's DNA

My mother-in-law's DNA is only 84% Ashkenazi Jewish with 12% Middle Eastern and 4% Western/Central European:

Mother's DNA

Not surprisingly, my husband has 92% Ashkenazi Jewish DNA from his father and his mother, but it's likely that his 5% Middle Eastern DNA and 3% European DNA came from his mother.

Son's DNA

Please remember that these are estimates, and are for fun. Because my in-laws' ancestors have been in this country for only one or two generations and Jewish family trees have a lot of endogamy (a lot of marrying within the same group of ancestors), there are tons of matches at FamilyTreeDNA for all three of these family members. Even though my father-in-law and my mother-in-law are not related (at least not within recent generations), they often show the same matches of others who have tested at FamilyTreeDNA and have a lot of Ashkenazi Jewish ancestry.

I thank my husband and his parents for scraping the insides of their cheeks for me and I am hoping that more family members will consider taking an autosomal DNA test because there is more to learn than our ethnic makeup. I hope to share more about DNA results in a future blog post.

Wednesday, March 30, 2016

Wedding Wednesday ~ Anita and Harry

January 27, 1952, was the wedding day for my parents-in-law: the first day of over 64 years of a very happy marriage.

Harry died last month and I shared his obituary here.

Thursday, March 24, 2016

Birthplaces Pedigree ~ Jewish Ancestral Version

Many genealogists have been sharing this table for their ancestors, showing birthplaces for five generations. Mine can be found at my blog, From Maine to Kentucky. My ancestors for five generations were born in the U.S. so the blocks all show U.S. state names.

My husband's is different:

Only four born in the U.S. and the rest born in eastern Europe. I have recently discovered (on his death record) that his great grandfather, Aron / Adolf Handler was born in Bonyhad, Hungary, and I am making an assumption that his parents were born in Hungary.

I am also assuming that his maternal grandfather's parents and grandparents were all born in Romania.

You can see that the color is a paler shade where I am not positive about the birth location (Hungary, Romania, Galicia).

This is a fun exercise and genealogists have been posting these on Facebook for the past couple of days.

Sunday, March 13, 2016

Sunday's Obituary ~ Harry Handler (1922-2016)

HANDLER, HARRY - age 93 of Ventnor, N.J. passed away [on March 7, 2016] lovingly surrounded by his family.

Harry was born in Akron, Ohio. He moved to the Atlantic City area in 1950 to help his older brother Art start an appliance and tire store in Atlantic City. Harry's expertise as a salesman and his youthful energy to do whatever was asked of him, contributed tremendously to what became a highly successful appliance store - still in business today. Harry was the manager of the second store located in Pleasantville. While manager, he met many Pleasantville residents and quickly made a reputation as someone who could offer appliances for every budget - from top-of-the-line to "used but not abused" (his favorite expression). Generation after generation came in to buy appliances, always asking only for Harry.

Harry served his country honorably during WWII, stationed in New Guinea. Tragically, his two older brothers - Alfred and Louis - were killed within 15 days of each other, tragedies that sent Harry stateside for the remainder of the war with the responsibility of guarding German POWs.

After his retirement from the appliance store, he loved to tend to his vegetable garden where he grew tomatoes, eggplant, and zucchini. Harry was not the type to sit in a rocking chair letting time pass; he always kept busy, either finding chores in the house or outside tending to his plants and vegetables. In fact, keeping busy was key to his longevity. He was a tough guy who survived three different cancers, finally succumbing at 93.

He loved to make his family laugh, often mimicking the catch phrases of popular television commercials. He loved old gangster movies starring James Cagney, Edward G. Robinson, and John Garfield.

Surviving is the love of his life Anita Handler (married 64 years); sons Joseph (Jodi), Mark (Linda), Alan (Michelle) and Steven (Elizabeth) Handler; grandchildren Melanie Caruso (Chris), Kenneth, Rachel, Jesse, Daniel, David and Matthew Handler; also, many nieces and nephews. Harry is predeceased by his parents Joseph and Lena Handler; brothers Arthur, Alfred, and Louis Handler; sisters Belle Dorman and Margaret Levine.


Thank you to Mark Handler, who wrote this obituary and gave permission for me to share it on my blog.

Monday, March 7, 2016

KehilaLinks at JewishGen (a favorite website for those researching their Jewish ancestry), offers many resources, as I have shared previously. I receive occasional emails noting updates to the KehilaLinks project and I thought I'd share links to my husband's ancestral communities in one blog post for reference.

What is KehilaLinks? 

From the website: "KehilaLinks is a project facilitating web pages commemorating the places where Jews have lived. KehilaLinks provides the opportunity for anyone with an interest in a place to create web pages about that community. These web pages may contain information, pictures, databases, and links to other sources providing data about that place."

These pages are coordinated by volunteers. Some have more information than others. And there are not pages for every community, but where there is a page, it can provide additional background to your research.

I found the following:

Iaşi, Romania where Morris and Max Goldstein came from.

Shytomir/Zhitomir/Zhytomyr, Ukraine where Simche Segal came from.

Husiatyń/Gusyatin, Ukraine (formerly part of Galicia, Austria) where the Lewites / Levitt family came from (Max, Emanuel, and Sophie).

Farming Communities of NJ (specifically, Woodbine, New Jersey) where the Goldsteins and Levitts settled and where my mother-in-law grew up.

There is not a page for Hőgyész, Hungary, where Anna Honenvald's family was from. The KehilaLinks page for Hungary will show any updates and additions.

There is also not a KehilaLink page for Bonyhád, Hungary, but there is a Yizkor Book page which references Bonyhad: a destroyed community; the Jews of Bonyhad, Hungary, a book by Leslie Blau, from which a KehilaLink page could probably be created. This is where the Hollander family was from, and where the Handler family was originally from before an ancestor moved from there to Ljuba (now in Serbia).

Yizkor Book Project is another wonderful resource from JewishGen. Yizkor books, usually put together by survivors of the Holocaust, were written after the Holocaust as memorials to Jewish communities destroyed in the Holocaust.  They might contain descriptions and histories of the community, biographies of prominent people, and lists of people who perished. I do own the book for Bonyhád, which gives a wonderful sense of what the community was like before the war.

There don't appear to be any pages for communities in what is now Serbia and Croatia. The Handler family, before immigrating to Akron, Ohio, came from Ljuba, near Erdevik, Serbia, and Ilok, Croatia.

Have you explored the KehilaLinks pages for your Jewish ancestral community? You won't necessarily find your family name, but if you do find your community in this database, you can learn more about the history of the community and explore a variety of different resources.

Wednesday, February 3, 2016

Wedding Wednesday ~ Adolf Handler and Sali Handler, 1882

Here is another one of the records that the researcher from Šid, Serbia, shared with me.

This record, along with other records in this archives, helps to confirm the story that my husband's great-grandparents were related.

I have split the horizontal record into two sections, for easier reading.

Saturday, January 30, 2016

Sympathy Saturday ~ Adolf Handler's Death Record

As I recently noted, a researcher in Šid, Serbia, contacted me via JewishGen's Family Finder and shared with me some digital images from the local archives.

This is the death record for my husband's great grandfather, Aron / Adolf Handler. When he died, he left several adult children, but also four young children from his second wife: Rose, Josef, Sam, and Regina.

Again, I have taken the long horizontal entry and split it into two pieces for easier reading. And again, I got help with the translation from Google Translate.